A real curiosity. Based on Mary Roberts Rinehart's Broadway play The Bat, this 1930 thriller was filmed in two versions, one an early 65-millimeter wide-screen process; in that version director Roland West borrows lighting motifs from the German expressionists and executes some spectacular swooping camera movements (during which the sets are intercut none too seamlessly with miniatures). When the camera isn't moving, static dialogue scenes betray the film's stage origins, and the story, about an assortment of cartoonish characters converging on a creepy mansion in search of hidden treasure, borders on camp. The film has its defenders—in Sight and Sound, Elliot Stein ranked it among the ten best of all time—but culturally it may be most noteworthy for its title arch-criminal, who influenced the creation of Batman.
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